New team slots into place for finance revamp

An expert team is leading a university-wide overhaul of Deakin’s finance services and systems.

Deakin University’s Chief Financial Officer Ms Kerrie Parker arrived at Deakin just in time to help lead one of the most ambitious finance overhauls the University has ever undertaken.

Far from being daunted, however, Ms Parker is energised by the prospect of transforming Deakin’s finance services – and confident she has a dynamic team behind her to deliver on her transformational vision.

In building her team, which features strong representation of women in an area that has traditionally been male-dominated, Ms Parker says she did not need to follow any requirement for quotas.

“I have always hired the best person for the job,” she said.

“There was a good team of men and women when I arrived at Deakin 14 months ago and women have been the best candidates for several new appointments. We have recruited excellent candidates of both genders.”

The Finance Business Transformation is being directly overseen by Program Director Sherry Herman, along with a team of over 70 finance gurus from across the University. On completion, the transformation is expected to result in a significantly more efficient finance services and finance system within two years.

The overhaul is a major challenge for a large, complex organisation like Deakin, which has over 4,200 staff and more than 54,000 students, of whom almost 10,000 are international.

“In large part, the project success will come down to coordinated planning and great teamwork,” said Ms Parker.

“At present, we have many separate finance teams, totalling over 150 people, many of whom will benefit directly from the process. We will provide opportunities for professional development and exposure to other parts of the University, strengthening team skills and looking at succession planning.

“We are seconding key staff into the program, almost half of whom are female, to ensure that we are building the skills within Deakin that will be needed to continue improving the finance services long after the transition program concludes. This in turn provides an opportunity for others to step into roles at the next level, enabling us to upskill right across the University.

“At the end of the program we expect to know where all of our key talent is so that we can build our finance community into a high-calibre cross-institutional team.

“The reference / subject matter expert groups we have established as part of the process offer a brilliant way of building our collective knowledge storehouse. These groups are assessing the current system and researching models of how Deakin will work best in the future.”

She noted that a key benefit of this approach was the sense of ownership it would provide Deakin finance staff.

“Having a real say as to how the finance services will be transformed acknowledges the expertise of individuals within the team and into the future will produce advocates for the new way of working,” she said.

The transformation is being undertaken in four phases: gathering information about existing processes and system architectures; designing new processes and a business plan; implementing the new solution; and decommissioning the previous system.

“It is exciting to know that we will support the University as it adapts to an evolving Higher Education sector,” said Ms Parker.